It was equally thrilling to watch the moms.
Then I wondered: how would they respond if I reminded those mothers, "Enjoy them - enjoy motherhood. It goes by so fast." They'd probably be as puzzled as I once was when wise, seasoned moms offered me that sage advice.
I don't know about you, but when I was a new parent in my early 20s all I could see was a barrage of dirty diapers, colicky nights and perpetual supplies of Band-Aids; because every mother knows that a kiss from mom and a Band-Aid makes the pain go away. Then there were the surprise haircuts that happened after I noticed it was a little too quiet at the other end of the house; the tree frogs left in mayonnaise jars by my son's bed; shoe shopping during growth spurts; braces; carpools, curfews and driver's ed.
When my son married I started to hear the wise, seasoned moms' voices once again in my memory: "Enjoy them - enjoy motherhood. It goes by so fast."
Today I am a Baby Boomer caught up in the Sandwich Generation; I'm a mother of teens, a grandmother, and a daughter to a precious mom who is in her 10th year of diagnosis with Alzheimer's. And now I realize: motherhood has never seemed so fleeting. Nor have I never understood its depth of love until now.
I visited Mom last week at her Alzheimer's community. I held back tears when I noticed how much weight she had lost. She was tired. She wanted to sleep. At meal time, I coaxed her to eat "just one more bite, please," and drink "just one more sip of water, Mom."
Maybe you know of someone who's in the same place in life as I am. If so, we remember how our moms once took us to the park and watched us dance, giggle and show off our roly-poly-head-over-heels somersaults down soft, grassy slopes. They kissed the spot to make it well, rescued creatures from jars, combed over our haphazard haircuts and bought us new shoes when our little toes pinched. They drove us to piano lessons, put us in braces, set curfews when we didn't like it and got us to driver's ed.
I watched my frail mom and remembered some of those times - and realized I'd better soak up every minute now while I can. I want to hear her sweet voice, feel her soft touch and see her flash me a smile. Because, like wise, seasoned mothers once told me, "Enjoy them - enjoy motherhood. It goes by so fast."
Today, I realize Mom's motherhood has come full circle; she's enjoyed her family's moments and rooted for each of us. She's entrusted us to carry on as she raised us, confident we'll keep her love alive in each generation's hearts.
That's motherhood for you. It's fleeting. It goes by fast. And I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Judy (firstname.lastname@example.org) Halone is a member of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. She welcomes readers' comments. Copyright © 2008 by Judy Halone.